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The Reading Stack

A while ago, my cyber-friend, Sharon, of Sage Creek Farm, had an entry on her “In Stitches” blog about the number of books in her “pile” waiting to be read. I told her that I had one as well and thought it would be fun to share what is in the stack waiting for me to sit still long enough (without drifting off or “resting” my eyes) to enjoy them.
The top two books have gone back to their owner, Lois Moore, of Stonehaven Farm, who left them in my care last month. Lois makes her way through Flagstaff about once a month on her way to Tuba City to service the hospital there as part of their radiology team. While the traveling is rough on her and her hubby, Brook, I have the pleasure of talking sheep, watching her knit, and sharing good food each time she heads this way.

Sharon has retired recently and is a fellow spinner/weaver/fiber person. She and her husband, Ian, have a few Shetland sheep as well. As we are in the same age group, we’ve found we have a lot in common, especially a fondness for good books. Well, Sharon…here’s the stack. I did not include all the periodicals like Spin-Off, Handwoven, Black Sheep Newsletter, etc. It’s a good thing too, as I’m sure the stack would have been way too tall.

Right now I’m finishing up Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World.

OK…What’s in YOUR stack to read?

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Happy Halloween…

…from all of us at Sheep Thrills Farm. Pharaoh Ziggy commands it and we must obey!

“Look into my eyes. You are all getting sleepy. Very, very sleepy. What’s that, Mom? Oh, OK. Ahem…You’re getting very sheepy…sheepy…”

“Now can I get out of this hat, Mom?”

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At A Loss

Some of you have been wondering why my entries in this blog have not been many for the past few months. Well, a dear friend of ours had been diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. Yesterday morning she lost her fight.
I first met Julie when we moved to Flagstaff. My DH had one last tour of duty in Korea before his Army retirement, leaving Kelly and me behind to hold down the fort. We knew no one in Flagstaff. All we knew was it was centrally located between our respective families and looked like a nice place to retire to. Feeling somewhat cut-off, I joined both the quilters’ guild as well as the weavers’ guild, knowing that both groups were full of people known for welcoming newcomers. That’s where I met Julie.
I guess Julie really met me. We had taken a class our local quilt shop put on, sitting next to each other at the work table. Soon we found out that we were both Army Wives (the real ones, not the TV show ones) except that Julie’s husband had passed away a few years before while mine was just “gone”. If I missed a meeting of the guild, or at her house where our Tuesday Night Ladies Quilting and Terrorist Society met, the phone would ring the next morning with Julie on the other end asking if we were both OK.
We loved chatting about experiences past and present. She had an extremely interesting life with the Pentagon as well as for the military overseas in Paris and Germany. She and her husband were married in Paris as well. Just the name “Paris” and you could see a smile on her face and a gleam in her eyes. True love. Julie + Lee + Paris.
She was always there if you needed help or that piece of fabric the quilt shop had sold out of and you needed more to finish a project. Kelly became like a granddaughter to her. Julie always was there with a graduation present or a wedding gift. We’d talk about the military…her about the time she and Lee spent in Europe and Lee’s involvement with liaison work in Germany after WWII…me about what it was like to be a WAC, then the transition to the New Army including my becoming an investigator. I remember one evening at her house with the TNT quilters. We had been discussing work and the military. I was explaining what some of my investigative work entailed, then I had to stop due to the discussion getting a bit “touchy” on things I couldn’t discuss. A young woman made a flippant remark like “What? Will you have to kill me if you tell me?” I just smiled and said nothing. Julie knew. Julie just said, “Probably.”, smiling sweetly. She knew. And because of it, she was about the only person (other than my DH and a few friends) who also knew I turned down a job offer at the White House on the Army staff (way back then). She knew I loved field work and crime scenes more than the prestige that job would have brought me. She just knew and I didn’t have to go into detail.
And gourmet food was top on Julie’s list of “the Good Life”. Foods of all sorts. Christmas always saw a bag of goodies presented to us with treats from around the world along with an appropriate wine selection paring.
Then this spring the coughing wouldn’t stop. A mutual friend stopped in to find Julie very ill, but not wanting to “bother” anyone to take her to Urgent Care. She called me from the hospital to tell me she was on a “vacation” but if I was in the area she’d love to see me. I went right in to see what was going on. Fluids on the lung were drained, tests were done, and then the bolt out of the blue. Cancer. Adenosarcoma. It was everywhere by the time they did the first PET scan. She was too weak to do chemotherapy. And I saw my petite friend shrinking before my eyes.
She had no family – or at least family she wanted contacted. She had a brother but gave instruction to the circle of friends now joined to aid her in any way possible. She’d kick our butts if we did. Then this month, food wasn’t going down well. We all tried everything to no avail. By last week we could see she was losing her battle and pain was now setting in. By Sunday she was back in the hospital scheduled for fluid to be drained from around her heart. It didn’t improve anything. I saw her late Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning she passed on.
I will miss her smiling face and diplomatic demeanor. She lived life to the fullest, only missing her much beloved husband.

I know when the pain became too much and air could no longer fill her lungs, Lee held out his hand and asked her to go dancing in Paris. And Julie, being Julie, did the only thing she could have done…
she went.

And I will miss her.

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Yesterday, I received a call from our wonderful shearer, Penney. she was in the area and would it be possible to stop by tomorrow (Tuesday) to shear my sheep? I immediately said, “Yes!”! Penney had been stuck in Idaho during some nasty snowstorms but had made it home to southern Arizona with herself and some sheep she was transporting in tow. Now she was making a loop doing shearing jobs up in northern Arizona, hoping she could fit us in as she came through our area.
Penney is about the best shearer around these parts having not only shorn since she was 9, but was raised on a sheep ranch. She knows her stuff. I consider it a blessing that I have found someone who really cares about what she’s doing. She shears fiber animals for a living, not just as a side business. And you can tell that from the quality of her work and the way she treats the sheep.
So, I shuffled things aside and got ready for shearing today. She was a bit late arriving, but got right to work, shearing Skittles first. When Skit saw Penney, he immediately started to gently baa in his deep voice. He doesn’t do that for just anyone. He loves Penny and just stares at her with this smitten look on his face and makes goo-goo eyes at her all the while she wisks off his fleece. Penney could hang Skit up-side-down for all he cares, just as long as it’s her doing it.
We only have nine sheep now. Penney took her time, setting each one on his or her bum then caressed each one giving each a peck on the nose. You can tell she really loves her work. Not only shearing, Penney also checks their teeth and hooves, trimming feet if needed. Then the shearing begins. Last year she didn’t nick any of the 16 sheep we had. This year Amanda’s fleece was so dense that she did receive a nick as well as when Penney was trimming her feet, Amanda jerked causing Penney to cut a dew claw too short and it bled. We put blood-stop powder on it to control the bleeding and the shearing continued. that was the only sheep who sustained any sort of “trauma”.
It was a long day. After shearing we came inside the house to get out of the wind. Even though we set up in the barn, the wind kept changing directions and was very cold. Naturally, over coffee and tea we talked “sheep”.
Marilyn, our friend and farm-sitter, had come earlier to witness the shearing of a couple of sheep and to pick out a fleece for herself. It turned out she picked Ole’s fleece. As the day progressed Marilyn joined right in helping where she could by sweeping off the 4 x 8 sheet of plywood Penney was shearing on, or raking up the tags and skirtings (the mostly unusable parts of the fleece that are better off composted) as well as helping move the sheep in and out when needed. As she got ready to go home, Marilyn asked if she could buy Ole’s fleece from me and how much it was. I gave her a hug and said “Happy Birthday” and “Thank you for all your help today”. I knew that she had celebrated a birthday last week. Since my HHWB (the DH) had to be at work today, Marilyn’s help, even with the few sheep I have, was very welcomed. I was grateful for her staying and she found the whole process mesmerizing. After I hugged her I noticed she had tears in her eyes. She just couldn’t believe I would let her have Ole’s fleece. I just wanted her to know that her help was very welcomed by both Penney and I. Many hands make light work.
So now I have naked sheep. They look so small compared to the puffballs on toothpicks they usually look like before shearing. I find myself relieved. It’s done for another year. We can get on with other things now…like playing with all those beautiful fleeces. 🙂

And yes, Ole…it will grow back. And yes, Ole…you are still the cutest one and I love you, too… Just remember to stay in the barn tonight, Ole. It’s still cold at night and I think you’re going to need to buddy-up with the others for added warmth.
…and no, Ole…you can not come into the house with me…

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Please Send Good Thoughts…


Please send good thoughts and purrayers to my dear friend Tina and her cat, Neelix. Neelix has been fighting thyroid disease and is still losing quite a bit of weight. Tina is very,very worried about him.

Tina has had Neelix since he was a kitten over a dozen years ago. He sits and waits for both her and John to get home each day as well as doing his Snoopervisor duties around the Marietta Shetlands barn.

Neelix has been continuing to lose weight even with treatment. If you have some time, please stop over to Tina’s place to give both her and Neelix some encouragement. I would appreciate it. Tina emailed me this morning to let me know she was having to take Neelix in to the v-e-t today. I so hope they can find out what’s wrong and it’s an easy fix like too much thyroid medication.

I hope you know you are definitely in my thoughts and prayers today, dear Friend…

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I have been amiss in posting lately, for a variety of reasons…mainly due to it being summer and being outside instead of in at the computer. I have a couple of belated “Thank Ewes” to some dear Friends.

Our friends, Steve and Carole, used to be our next-door-neighbors when we lived up the mountain, about 1/4 mile from where we now live. They used to split their time between Phoenix and Flagstaff but have since moved closer to family in Texas. Now they will be here for part of the year, the remainder in the Lone Star State.
They both know of our, er…my affinity for cats. Any loose or stay feline seems to find its way to our door (er, there’s that “my” again!). My “Hired Hand With Benefits”, aka my DH, says there must be a sign that some cat has posted somewhere in the neighborhood much like the Kind-Hearted-Woman signs the hobos used to leave during the Depression announcing where a warm meal could be found. Carole just laughed when the story of the mother cat and kittens under the front step was told to her. This, I’m sure, is Steve and Carole’s perverse sense of humor:

The doormat arrived shortly after the post about finding the little family. And yes, Carole…I have put it in front of the door! 🙂

And Saturday I found a small box in our mailbox when I went up to get the mail. It was from my sheepy-cyber-bud, Michelle. Inside was a pink-sweatered ewe named “Flora” as well as a cup of cherries dried from Michelle’s own tree and Tina’s fabulous “Chocolate Coma Cookie” recipe. We’re supposed to have drier conditions this week so I believe I will just have to make some cookies for myself. The Hired-Hand can have his Tim-Tams from New Zealand. heeheehee

You’ll never know just how much these have cheered me up. It’s been a hectic summer even if we didn’t go to Oregon. Between kitten-sitting, learning I can’t do some of the things I used to before back surgery, and trying to keep things on an even-keel around here these remembrances have made me laugh and given me hugs. Thank you all for your gifts!
Now if I can only find that blasted sign and remove it before any other cat sees it…
NOTE: My DH has pointed out that there must be a connection between me and most of the animals I have. Most all of them are black or some color-form of black shade. Hmm. Could it be something in that Celtic background of mine? I wonder…

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We were supposed to be headed for Oregon this week to attend Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene. But, with gas prices high and the nagging feelings I had about leaving our wonderful petsitter with way too many animals, both sheep and cats, plus my needing a dental crown next month to the tune of $850.00/copay, we started thinking about cancelling the trip.
There is another reason we’ve been wanting to save our traveling money. We HAVE to be in New Zealand in December this year!!! “HAVE to be???”, my dear friend Tina asked me. Why, yes…HAVE to be. And the reason for having to be in New Zealand is a really good one. We’ve known about it for about two months but I haven’t been allowed to say anything until now…

You see, in December, our daughter, Kelly is expecting her first baby! 🙂 It hasn’t sunken in yet, but I shall be a grandmother! Last night we were informaed that she is now 12 weeks along and has told her coworkers so it was OK to write about it in my blog. Thanks, DD…I thought I was going to burst if I had to hold it in much longer! 🙂

Hmm…I wonder if Shepherd’s crooks come in child size?

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